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How to Handle Negative Reviews

Damage Control: How to Handle Negative Reviews

Reviews aren’t just a way 88% of users decide if a business is trustworthy or not, but they also have a pretty big impact on your local SEO. So, this means you should probably give those review sites some attention, and take the time to ask for reviews from your customers and start building a reputation.

But with the good comes the bad, and with great reviews that highlight all your dealership has to offer comes negative reviews that try to break down what you’re trying to build.

Negative reviews are inevitable, but that doesn’t mean they have to hurt your dealership. You need a solid reputation management strategy if you want to stay on top of your online reviews.

First, what should you do?

There are plenty of dos and don’ts when it comes to handling negative reviews, but let’s start with the dos. First, remember to do your homework before responding to the problem. Talk to the team member involved and find out their side of the story. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the reviewer is wrong and that your sales team is lying or vice versa, but it’s a good idea to have all your facts straight before formulating a response.

There are a few elements you should always include when responding to a negative review. Be sure to give the reviewer contact info, usually a phone number and email address, that they can use to contact your dealership directly. Getting these complaints off your review site and into the hands of someone who can actually solve the problem should be one of your priorities. It’s also a good idea to thank the reviewer for the feedback, whether it was good or bad. It makes he or she feel heard.

I can hear you wondering already: what about apologizing? Well, that comes back to the research we talked about, and whether you feel the reviewer is warranted one. Owning your mistakes will improve your credibility, and it’s always okay to apologize for someone’s experience not being exceptional or what they were expecting, but make sure you have some kind of resolution to the problem. One thing I’d advise against, however, is apologizing “for you feeling this way.” This kind of language is condescending, and it doesn’t address the problem. But keep in mind that an apology goes a long way, and no one’s perfect. Sometimes, it is better to swallow your pride and apologize, but do it in a sincere way or don’t bother.

Whatever you do, do it quickly. Letting a bad review sit for a long time without a response looks just as bad as the review itself. Try to get to it same day, if you can, or the day after at the latest.

The biggest “do”: making sure you’re compliant with Google’s latest updates on gating reviews.

So, what should you not do?

Don’t delete negative reviews just because you don’t like what it says. Having a whole page of positive reviews is unnatural and a little untrustworthy. Like I just said, no one’s perfect, and mistakes are bound to happen. That’s why you’re establishing this strategy in the first place. That’s not to say you should shy away from reporting reviews that use expletive language. A review page is there to offer feedback and constructive criticism, not to shout abuse. Different sites do have different policies on abusive language, however, so be sure to know what these are before you take any action.

Where there’s expletive language, there’s probably drama, and that’s something you don’t want to get drawn into. Some people aren’t trying to offer feedback; they just want to start a fight. Don’t feed the flames. Address the situation politely with the guidelines we talked about earlier, and then let it be. It’s your job to be the bigger person in this situation and show some professionalism.

At the end of the day, the one thing you have to remember about responding to negative reviews is to grow from them. You’re not going to like everything you read, but that doesn’t mean some of it isn’t warranted. Use negative reviews to help your dealership’s customer service grow, and you’ll see less and less of those single stars in the future.

Need to get reviews, period? We covered that one, click here to read more.

Author Greg Gifford

Greg Gifford is the Vice President of Search at DealerOn. He has over 16 years of online marketing and web design experience, and has specialized in automotive SEO for the last 8 years, helping hundreds of auto dealers thrive while the industry has struggled during the recession. Greg speaks internationally at both automotive and SEO conferences, teaching thousands of small business owners and marketers how to get their sites to show up higher in local search rankings. Greg also spends his spare time doing freelance website design and SEO for local businesses. He graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BA in Cinema and Communications, and has an obscure movie quote for just about any situation.

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